Bonus consultation: Preference for three-syllable Old-World catacomb-y names

I’m excited to post this bonus consultation for a couple with such a wonderful story — the mama, Kara, is American and her husband is British, and they live in England, and she shared that, “My husband and I are converts. He was a Church of England Clergyman, and now he’s a Catholic priest.”

How wonderful is that?!! What a great and inspiring story!!

I don’t think many of us know any families with this kind of background, and I love hearing from our international readers, and when I asked Kara if she would mind if I posted her consultation today, she told me that today is her husband’s fourth anniversary of ordination! Congratulations to him! It’s also the feast of Sts. Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, so yeah, just a great day all around. 🙂

Kara writes,

My 4th is due at the end of October and if it’s a boy, we are stuck for a name! If it’s a girl, then the name will be Helena Mary.”

This little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown) will join big sibs:

Rosamond Mary (“She’s known as Rosey, and named after my Godmother and Our Lady“)

Matthias Michael (“We always had Matthias picked for our first boy. Shortly before he was born a priest friend died and his name was Fr. Michael. It seemed right to remember him by using his name“)

Simeon Thomas (“Simeon was not a name I loved, but when I was pregnant with him the Feast of the Presentation came along, and I felt like the Lord was saying you are going to have a boy, and his name should be Simeon. And I was all like, really Lord? And He was like, yes. So we went with it. And it suits him very well. The name Thomas is from my husband’s grandfather. The only grandparent he knew was this grandfather who died when he was a child.”)

I just loooove these names!! Rosamond is a fairly uncommon Ros- name, and Rosey is so sweet! Matthias is a favorite of mine, and I love seeing Simeon used! I definitely think it needs to be used more!

Kara continues,

Ok, here’s all the stuff that makes us super picky…

We don’t want a popular name. For us, that probably means it needs to be below the top 100 baby boy names. And it gets worse — I am American, my husband is British, we live in England. So it can’t be in the top 100 in the UK or the USA. [The 2015 list can be found here.]

Also, the name can’t be pronounced different in the UK and USA. That kind of thing drives me crazy! So Anthony is pronounced Antony here and something like Cordelia ends up being Cor-dee-lee-ah.

We’re not a fan of using last names as first names. So my husband’s patron is St. Edmund Campion, but we wouldn’t consider Campion as a name.

My husband thinks we have a thing going with naming our kids 3 syllable first names and 2 syllable middle names. I am not convinced that this pattern is essential.

I think we are probably wanting a saint’s name, but are open to thinking about other kinds of names.”

Names and patrons they’re considering (but none has felt totally right just yet) include:

Edmund (“My husband loves St. Edmund Campion, I love St. Edmund Arrowsmith. We definitely wouldn’t want Eddie to be a nickname though. There’s a bonus in that St. Edmund Arrowsmith was born near where we live in Liverpool and you can go get a blessing from his actual hand in a church nearby“)

Dominic (“I love Blessed Dominic Barberi. He is buried near to us. I love his story and I love that his mother used to say to her kids, “Children, you can be saints!”. Unfortunately, Dominic is a pretty chav name in Liverpool. (Chavs are urban youth in track suits and Burberry caps who wander in packs getting up to no good.) My husband does like the original St. Dominic too“)

Damien (“I love Fr. Damien of Molokai. But it’s also rather a chav name. And someone pointed out to me that Damien and Simeon sound rather similar. So I am not convinced“)

Gaetano/Cajetan (“My husband loves St. Gaetano Catanoso. The English version of his name is Cajetan evidently. Both seem a little too wild for me“)

John Henry Newman (“My husband really likes him, but the name is too popular. Also, our last name is Brown, so I would always think of that song “John Brown had a little Indian…””)

Peter Julian Eymard (“He’s another one my husband likes“)

Paschal Baylon (“We both like him. We live in St. Paschal Baylon Presbytery though, so it seems odd to name a child after where you live!“)

St. Nicholas (“My husband likes his story. We also like St. Nicholas Owen. But it’s too popular and I have a brother named Nicholas“)

Ambrose Barlow (“He has links to the area we live in, so that’s nice“)

I had a lot of fun finding names that would fit their criteria—I found quite a few three-syllable names that were below the top 100 in both America and the UK! I had a few other ideas as well, which seem like they might work well for Kara and her hubs, but first a few thoughts about the names they’re considering/that they’d like to consider:

— I love Edmund for them, I think it’s so great, and as for the nickname issue—Ned is as traditional as Ed/Eddie, and it’s a style match for Rosey (according to the Baby Name Wizard, which may not be terribly accurate for them since it’s based on US naming trends, but in this instance I think it’s spot on). I will say though that Rosamond and Edmund sound almost *too* good together, with the similar endings. Campion totally seems like it would be more their speed, especially since it has the vowel doublet that they seem to like (Matthias, Simeon, Damien), and I love love the nickname Cam, but if they really won’t consider last names and they don’t want to use Edmund, I wonder what they would think of Eamon? It’s an Edmund variant that I love, which could nod to both the Sts. Edmund that Kara and her husband favor.

— I’m so interested in the feel of the name Dominic where they live! I’d actually asked Kara if I could post that one bit about the chav names sometime, just as a way of showing how certain names have different connotations in different places, but I didn’t get to it. So interesting though, right? I’ve heard the term “chav” before but hadn’t ever had a really good handle on what it means.

— I agree with her about Damien and Simeon sounding too similar, boo!

— I love Gaetano/Cajetan too, but Kara’s right—they’re pretty wild!

— John Henry Newman is great—I wonder if they would consider the full John Henry? Or maybe changing it up to something like Ian Henry? It’s not as obvious, but it definitely works, since Ian is a form of John.

— I wonder if Peter Julian Eymard’s middle name might be just their speed—Julian has that vowel couplet, and it’s a style match for Dominic, Damian, and Nicholas!

— I love Paschal too! I can’t tell if I think it would be too weird? Our church is named for St. Clement, and I’ve often thought that Clement would be an awesome name for us, not just because of the saint/meaning, but also because of our parish (we were married here too, and all our kids baptized here, so it’s meaningful to us). I tend to think our community would love a little one named after our church, but maybe with Kara’s husband being the priest it gives it a weird edge?

— Oh gosh, I love St. Nicholas Owen too. Would Owen work?

Alrighty, on to my ideas for Kara and her husband! Their style is pretty consistent, at least according to the BNW—very old world and kind of catacomb-y, which I love love love!

(1) Barnaby or Barnabas
Barnaby has always had a Brit feel to me—and I apologize in advance if I’m totally off about what has a British vibe! I think there’s a street in London by that name? Is that a bad thing? I admit I fell in love with it listening to the lyrics from the song from Hello Dolly (sung by characters named Ambrose, Cornelius, and Barnaby—a pretty great set!). Barnabas is another variant, which isn’t as cheerful sounding as Barnaby (which could be good). I like both of them a lot, and there are a few saints/blesseds to choose from. Barnaby is a style match for Rosamond, has never been in the top 1000 in the U.S., and isn’t in the top 100 in the UK.

(2) Thaddeus
Thaddeus is similar to Barnaby in terms of being weighty and biblical, and it’s a style match for Rosamond and Matthias. It feels like maybe a little much for everyday use—more so than Matthias and Simeon, despite that they’re all the same number of syllables—but I know two little Thaddeuses who go by Taddy, which I love, and which would particularly fit in with sister Rosey. Thaddeus was #703 in 2015 in the U.S., and isn’t in the top 100 in the UK.

(3) Leopold
Leopold is similar to Rosamond and Matthias, and trims down to Leo so easily. It’s so handsome and sophisticated, and three syllables! I enjoyed the stories of all three of these holy men. It hasn’t ever been in the top 1000 in the U.S., and isn’t in the top 100 in the UK.

(4) Raphael
This one might be problematic pronunciation-wise—I know there are pronunciation issues here, where I hear both rah-fay-EL (mostly) and RAY-fee-uhl (occasionally). Raphael was #537 in 2015 in the U.S., and isn’t in the top 100 in the UK.

(5) Tobias
Rosamond and Matthias shared a bit more overlap in terms of names that were similar to them, so I really wanted to loop Simeon in. Tobias is a style match for it, as well as for Raphael, which is a match for Matthias and Dominic as well. Such a great name! It’s the most popular of the names I’m suggesting, coming in at #316 in 2015 in the U.S. and on an upward trajectory; it’s not in the top 100 in the UK.

(6) Phineas/Phinnaeus
Are you seeing a theme here? All these great, heavy-hitting names with vowel couplets! Phineas is another great one—the first time I heard it on a child in real life was Julia Roberts’ son Phinnaeus, who goes by Finn, which is one of my favorite names ever. Phineas is a match for Simeon, Barnaby, Raphael, and Tobias, hasn’t ever been in the top 1000 in the U.S., and isn’t in the top 100 in the UK.

(7) Joachim
This is the only name that didn’t come from my research, and it may be too like Gaetano/Cajetan to Kara in terms of being too wild, but it’s super saintly and I always think of it as exclusively Catholic, though I know it has more use in Europe than America, and likely some of those Joachims aren’t Catholic I suppose. I think it has the feel of Matthias and Simeon without being obviously biblical. It’s never been in the top 1000 in the U.S., and isn’t in the top 100 in the UK.

(8) Benedict
Another great, heavy-hitting, saintly, three-syllable name! I’m actually surprised Benedict’s not on their list already, so maybe that means they already considered it and decided they didn’t like it? But it’s a match for Rosamond, Edmund, Ambrose, Barnaby, and Thaddeus! The last time Benedict was in the U.S. top 1000 was in 1968 (#971), and (despite Benedict Cumberbatch, who I assume is a good association) it’s not in the top 100 in the UK.

(8) Piers/Pierce
This last one gets away from the three-syllable, heavy, mostly biblical feel of the previous suggestions. Piers is a style match for Rosamond, and I really like that it’s not obviously biblical, so I feel like it fits in with Rosey’s name a bit more than some of the others, but at the same time it *is* biblical, being a variant of Peter, which ties it in nicely with Kara’s other boys. I know there’s Piers Morgan, and I don’t know if that’s a good/bad/neutral association. If negative, Pierce might be a nice alternative. Piers has never been in the top 1000 in the U.S., though Pierce was #466 in 2015; neither are in the top 100 in the UK.

And those are my ideas for Kara and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother for Rosamond, Matthias, and Simeon?

62 thoughts on “Bonus consultation: Preference for three-syllable Old-World catacomb-y names

  1. Like you, Kate, I thought Julian would be a great fit when I saw their interest in Peter Julian Eymard. Fits the criteria (even the syllables – and would fit all the syllable criteria if flipped – Julian Peter).

    From the list of suggestions I like Thaddeus and Benedict.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Uhm, not to be controversial but I live in the UK, and if you wouldn’t be comfortable saying “white trash” names, you probably would also avoid saying “chav” names as well (or “bogan” names in Australia). I recommend this book I had to read for Sociology: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jun/19/chavs-demonization-working-class-review. I’m also guilty of not doing this, but I think with names (and other things), it’s nicer to simply say “not my style” 🙂

    that being said, lovely names! I’m not a fan of rosamond with edmund, but if she goes by rosey it might be doable. I know a grown Edmund who is never called Eddie or other nicknames. I also love Raphael and Joachim. Ezekiel, Nathaniel, Theodore come to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We named our miscarried son John Simeon and I always say his full name because I just love Simeon so much!

    I also have to comment on your last suggestion of Pierce! A friend of mine named her second born son Pierce after the Prophecy of Simeon (a sword will Pierce Mary’s heart) and I think it’s just perfect!!! Maybe the Brown’s might like that connection!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I had a really hard time focusing on the rest of this consultation after reading about the 3 significant St. Edmunds. It’s too perfect! I wonder if they’d like the nickname Teddy or Ted.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I just don’t think we’re cool enough enough to pull off a Pierce! Today I’ve been feeling drawn toward Damien again. What do you do when you feel like there isn’t a perfect boy’s name (besides hope for a girl!)? I feel like you posted an article about that, but I couldn’t find it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I think it was that post and the comments that went with it. I wonder why the Lord sometimes seems to so clearly give us names for our children, and other times it is totally left up to us?

        I keep having a feeling that if we pick a saint’s name then we need to have a devotion to that saint already. But I don’t think it would be wrong to pick a saint’s name and then grow in devotion to him. It just feels like maybe we’re supposed to pick someone we already love.

        Liked by 2 people

    • What does your husband think? You could defer to him on this one. Is there a clear front runner in his mind? We had this same dilemma with the boys name, but we had a girl. For us, the more kids we have, the boys are harder to name.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Namers after my own heart! Rosamond, Matthias, and Simeon!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ And the way she got Simeon’s name is almost exactly how my John got his name!

    I was also struck by Julian for them!

    I love your suggestions of Tobias, Benedict, and Joachim, too! All the heart eyes on this consult! 😍😍😍😍
    I also must say that I get what they’re saying about names like Dominic and Damien, even if it’s not PC. I wouldn’t personally use those names for similar reasons, mostly because of the area where I grew up. And we were working class, and are. So it’s not about demonization. Just sometimes some names become associated with certain populations depending on where you live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s an area thing. Still not exactly PC, but it’s there. Now I wouldn’the consider Dominic for example a chav name here in Glasgow, not at all, but I can think of others which would be. I definitely understand Kara’so thoughts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m also in Glasgow! And yes, it’s not like I don’t understand the reference, and I also don’t think Kara’s intentions were to demonise the working class. I just wanted to point out that it’s not a very PC thing to say, especially to the American audience here who might not be familiar with the term. That’s all! P.s. I love the name Dominic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, conversely, if she’d just said “Not my style” to an American audience, perhaps they wouldn’t really understand what made them “not her style”.

        That said, my guess is most Americans can easily understand what she’s talking about because, first, we have many different populations here that can color our perception of names, AND second, Americans also tend to follow European—especially British—pop culture fairly closely. I mean, what American doesn’t have favorite rock bands from the U.K.? Our interest in British culture runs both to the casual and the deep.

        I know it can be really easy to make assumptions about what Americans do or do not know about European culture, or vice versa (obviously). But I think in this world of increasing globalization, it’s probably wise not to do so, because those assumptions can tend to be fairly off base.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ok, well, Kate herself wrote on the post ” I’d actually asked Kara if I could post that one bit about the chav names sometime”, would it then be ok to write a post about “white trash” names? I’m guessing not, which is what I pointed out in my first comment. I’m not assuming Americans (or people who are not from the UK in general) don’t know what Chav means, I’m referring to this specific instance, and the article was meant to inspire a reflection on why it’s not a very respectful term to use. That’s all, have a good day!

        Liked by 1 person

      • All I can say is, I’m glad I now know how charged the term is!

        I’m not averse to writing about how names have certain connotations — it fascinates me, really, especially how it differs from place to place. I’d wanted to post about Kara’s perspective of Dominic and Damien because it’s so different from my experience … I’d put them under names that need to be reclaimed from negative associations, which I’ve written a bit about before (https://sanctanomina.net/2015/12/11/reclaim-the-name/) — Jemima for instance, because here it’s got some charged negative associations related to race and oppression. It’s quite likely that if I asked any of you which names would qualify as “stripper” names you’d be able to give me a list, and those names would probably not be on your own baby name lists because of it. All fascinating to me! And I know we all here have good hearts and right intentions, and I’ve always been impressed that we’ve had some controversial topics discussed here and everyone’s been lovely and respectful of each other. I’m sure St. Anne keeps us in her grandmotherly prayers! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I also immediately thought of Julian!! Seems like it would fit! Another thought, which I think would go well with the siblings is Gregory! Definitely not common, but a nice strong name for a boy with lots of nickname options! (Greg, Rory, etc)… And I love that it’s Rosey vs Rosie!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thaddeus is a family name for us. My husband’s grandpa was a Thaddeus who went by Ted. My nephew is a Thaddeus who goes by Thad and it works for him. Great names, by the way. I love the siblings names, and I love the suggestions.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love the suggestions of Leopold and Benedict!

    They seem to really like specifically English saints, so going with that theme and keeping the name to three syllables and out of the Top 100 there’s Bl. Adrian Fortescue and St. Augustine Webster (both English Reformation martyrs). Adrian has a similar sound to Damien, but maybe not the same unfavorable associations? Also, it has the D sound like Damien, but it doesn’t have the M sound that makes Damien too similar to Simeon. I also LOVE Augustine, and I adore the nicknames Gus and Auggie. Also, how great would it be for a different St. Augustine besides St. Augustine of Hippo to have a little boy named after him!

    Liked by 1 person

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